After fifteen volumes, and roughly two and a half years since the start of this title’s publication in English, we were finally going to learn Koro-sensei’s origin with vol. 16. So yes, I was pretty excited to finally read this volume. Having read it… I wouldn’t classify my disappointment as “crushing” but I was expecting better from mangaka Yusei Matsui after all this time. It’s not that the story behind Koro-sensei’s origin is bad, per se. The problem is that once the story gets going it’s VERY easy to see how things are going to play out. You’ve got the master assassin who is being experimented upon, the ruthless mad scientist who will stop at nothing to achieve his goals, and the kindly schoolteacher who wants nothing more than to make a difference in the lives of those she teaches. These are all familiar elements and there are precious few surprises to be had in seeing how they interact and play out in this context.
To be fair, that’s not to say that there aren’t any surprises to be had here. It was interesting to see the connection between Koro-sensei and the Grim Reaper established here and to find out the real reason behind the partial destruction of the moon. Furthermore, for all the familiarity of the story elements here, Matsui executes things skillfully enough that you wind up hoping things aren’t going to play out in the way that you know they will. When all is said and done, the revelation of Koro-sensei’s origin leaves the relationship between him and his students in a much different place than where it was at the start of this volume. For some of the students at least. While it’s not surprising that there’s a contingent of them who want to save their teacher after hearing his life’s story, some of the students still want to go through with the original assassination plan. Will they be able to work things out, or will overcoming this divide prove to be Class E’s greatest challenge? Unlike the main story in this volume, I appreciate that the resolution to this new plot point isn’t immediately obvious.